Internships

Internship Guidelines

The Wilder School encourages students to participate in for-credit, structured and supervised internships with government, nonprofit and business organizations. The purpose of the internship is to provide students with experience in a professional setting outside the classroom and to enrich the learning process by supplementing theory with practice.

Generally, the internship process includes three steps: (1) an initial meeting with the Wilder School internship coordinator to discuss and identify internship opportunities, application processes and contacts; (2) contacting appropriate organization(s) to discuss internship possibilities (including the substantive nature of the internship work) and beginning the application process with the organization; and (3) formally applying with the internship coordinator at the Wilder School to enroll in the internship course and receive credit.

Important note: It is not possible to receive academic credit for an internship retroactively. A student must be enrolled in the internship course while working as an intern to be given academic credit for the internship

Policies

To register for an internship course and receive credit through the Wilder School, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. You must be a graduate student or a student with senior or junior-level standing in one of the following Wilder School disciplines: Criminal Justice, Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Political Science, Public Administration, Sociology, Urban Studies and Regional Planning or Urban and Regional Studies.
  2. If you are an undergraduate student, you must have a 2.7 GPA in your major and have completed at least 18 credit hours in that major. Candidates who do not meet these guidelines must receive permission from the internship coordinator to apply for internship credit.
  3. Students will be awarded internship credit according to the following guidelines:
    1. Master of Public Administration students who do not have at least one year of professional level experience in the public sector or in a nonprofit agency are required to complete PADM 693 (three credits).
    2. Urban and Regional Studies students may receive only three credits for an internship.
    3. For graduate and undergraduate students in all other Wilder School disciplines, participation in internship courses is optional.
  4. Application required. In order to register for an internship course, students must formally apply for enrollment in the course with the Wilder School internship coordinator. You must submit your application form and a copy of your transcript (unofficial transcript is acceptable) by the following dates:
    • Nov. 1 for spring semester
    • April 1 for summer semester
    • Aug. 1 for fall semester

Upon acceptance into the internship course, you will receive an email from advising with detailed instructions for registering for the course.

Internship requirements

  1. The preliminary report is due within the first few weeks of the semester. You are required to complete this report which includes the name of the agency in which your internship is located, name, address, phone number and email of your direct supervisor and a description of the duties you will be performing and your work schedule.
  2. Mandatory work hours: Students will submit their work hours using a time log (form can be accessed online Get Adobe Reader). This log must be signed by both the student and the supervisor at the middle and end of the semester.
    1. Master of Public Administration students must work 300 hours at their internship.
    2. All other graduate students must work 150 hours (for three credits) or 300 hours (for six credits) at their internship.
    3. Undergraduate students have the option of taking between one and six credit hours. Students must work 50 hours per credit (i.e., a student taking three credits must complete 150 hours of internship work within the semester).
  3. Intermediate report and time log due at midpoint of semester. The syllabus will have the exact due dates and instructions.
  4. Undergraduate students will complete a final journal, supervisor evaluation Microsoft Word and time log Get Adobe Reader at the end of the semester with detailed instructions and due dates on the syllabus. Graduate students will submit a 10-15 page paper for three credits and a 15-20 page paper for six credits. See syllabus for complete instructions and dues dates.

Grading

Grading is pass/fail.

Guidelines for internship success

The internship is intended to meet two equally important objectives: to provide meaningful service to the internship sponsor and to afford an important learning experience for the student. The following are suggestions for students that can add to the success (and enjoyment) of the internship experience:

  • Learn as much as you can about the organization for which you are working by reading literature, Web pages, etc., prior to interviewing for your internship.
  • Recognize that an internship is a professional responsibility and should be treated in a responsible manner, e.g., be on time, dress professionally, complete tasks competently and so forth.
  • Remember that the work of your sponsoring member/organization is confidential and should not be part of your conversation away from the work site. This is very critical in some settings.
  • Work out a schedule that is mutually agreeable with your sponsor. Schedule classes that accommodate internship work. Most interns are expected to spend 10-25 hours per week at the work site. This may vary depending on particular needs. It is important to adhere to the agreed upon schedule and minimize absences and/or scheduling changes.
  • Take the initiative to learn the needs of your sponsor and to provide productive work — don’t just sit back and wait to be told what to do. As one author puts it: “Always do what most needs to be done without waiting to be asked.”
  • Be alert to learning opportunities. If you see learning opportunities requiring the approval of your sponsor that you would like to pursue, ask. Learn from the routine and menial tasks (there are bound to be some) as well as the exciting events.
  • If you have a problem in the working portion of your internship, don’t let it fester. The first step is to deal with it in a professional manner with your immediate supervisor/sponsor. You may also contact the Wilder School internship coordinator for advice or assistance.
  • Keep a journal/log of your activities and reactions to events and issues. A contemporaneous journal will be immensely helpful in journal assignments/papers. Also, it is likely to be something you will value 10 or 20 years from now.

Program specific guidelines

Master’s of Criminal Justice Microsoft Word
Master’s of Sociology Microsoft Word

For more information, please contact:
Gay Cutchin
Internship Program Coordinator
(804) 827-2417
dcutchin@vcu.edu